Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: Paper Valentine
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery
Publisher: Razorbill
Length: 304 pages
Original Publishing Date: January 8th, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Paper Valentine is a hauntingly poetic tale of love and death by the New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement and The Space Between.

Main characters: 5/5

Hannah is an intriguing main character. She has a strong will, and we see that grow through the story. But we also see very human weaknesses, things that she is ashamed of and things that aren't so pretty.  Hannah is quiet, almost introverted sometimes, preferring to analyze everything internally rather than speak her mind. While she could tend to wallow in her depression sometimes, who could really blame her? It made her realistic and I loved peeling back all of her layers.

Secondary characters: 4/5

Lillian. Wow, she is fascinating. I love how creepy she is, showing up out of no where in odd places or popping out from behind furniture. And yet she is funny and still retains a personality. She seems to inhabit this odd space between who she was and who she is now as a ghost. How does Yovanoff portray that so beautifully? We also see that line in Lillian between hard and strong, and soft and weak. So perfect.

Finny is yes. First of all, what a weird name. But I love it on him. Second, the sweet bad boy thing is perfect. I love the way his and Hannah's relationship grows as well. My complaint with Finny is that he begins to border on that stereotype, you know the one: the bad boy with the sweet heart. He starts to turn into a trope, rather than his own person.

I also felt that the villain was lacking. I didn't understand, and there wasn't any depth or complexity.

Writing style: 5/5

God, Yovanoff has beautiful writing. The thing that surprised and delighted me the most was the combination of this gorgeous prose with a pacing that moves pretty quickly. Her writing has a lot of weight too. She knows how to bring the intensity, and how to make things both creepy and beautiful, sometimes at the same time.

Plot: 4/5 
Okay, I love the premise. I love the genre crossing of this novel. It's a romance, but it's a serial killer mystery, but it also has a supernatural aspect to it. The romance was sweet and hit the right note, the mystery kept you guessing, and the supernatural aspect gave intensity to the mystery as well as added depth to the characters. I don't know if I've ever been able to say that before, that a paranormal apect added depth? It's always the opposite. Anyway, there was always something to keep me entertained. I was a little disappointed by the outcome of the serial killer & the deaths, but I'll get into that more below. Another problem? The mysterious birds subplot that is never solved.

Ending: 2/5

Probably the weakest aspect of the novel. I liked the set-up, but I just ended up feeling disappointed with the reveal, and like I didn't really understand the rationale. Unfortunately, to add more problems to an already problematic ending, I totally knew who the murderer was going to be too. Luckily, the other subplots were wrapped up a lot better than the mystery one.

Best scene: Lillian & the Ouija board

Reminded Me Of: Wintergirls meets The Body Finder

Positives: The complexity and depth of the characters, the multiple plotlines, the pacing, the gorgeous writing, Lillian

Negatives: The identity of the serial killer, the reveal, a mysterious unsolved subplot (plothole)

Cover: Doesn't really portray what the book is all about, in mood or substance, but it's cute?

Verdict:  This book kind of came out of left-field for me, but it was surprisingly beautiful and cool. I'll be checking out more of Yovanoff's novels.

Rating:  8.0 / 10 (4 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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